About Elizabeth Ann Birch
Elizabeth Ann Birch was born on 22 Mar 1831 in Radnoirshire, Wales. In the IGI, her birth date is listed as 2 Nov 1821, a more plausible date if she married Arnold in 1843. Another recorded birth year is 1822. The 1850 census lists her as age 26 which would put her birth year about 1824.
She was baptized in 1840 at Stanley Hill, England by Wilford Woodruff.
She and her mother and brother had come to Nauvoo from Herefordshire, England. They had been among those converted by Wilford Woodruff and his companions at the Benbow farm. The family arrived at New Orleans May 16, 1841.
She married widower Arnold Potter in Nauvoo on 10 December 1843.
By 1845 they were living at Sand Prairie, in Lee County, Iowa, just across the river from Nauvoo, where he was the Presiding Elder of the Saints living there.
Crossing the plains for the first time in 1848, Arnold arrived in Salt Lake in September of that year. Elizabeth had remained behind in Iowa. Four of his children by his first wife were already in Utah, having come with Daniel Spencer's group about a year before, in 1847. Their ages that year would have been somewhere between 14 and 20 something.
Arnold spent the winter 1848-49 in the Salt Lake Valley and returned to Iowa in the spring of 1849. Leaving Iowa under Silas Richards in July, he and Elizabeth arrived in Salt Lake in October, 1849. Elizabeth was at this time expecting their first child. They settled in Millcreek where Wallace Edwin Potter was born in April of 1850. John, his youngest child from his first marriage was living with them at age 17. (1850 census)
The family was definitely in San Bernardino by March 16, 1856. This was the date when he was called to serve a mission to Australia.
Upon his return to San Bernardino to his family and the Saints in 1857, he caused enough notice to be recorded in the "Manuscript history of the San Bernardino Settlement," found in the LDS Church archives. Between September and December of 1857, several entries were made concerning his activities there:
"Wednesday 21 October 1857 - Arnold Potter, who calls himself Potter Christ, appeared in our streets today with a brand on his forehead which had been put in with India ink. The words, which can be read at quite a distance, are 'Potter Christ The Living God Morning Star.' To the right of the inscription is a star, below a cross. He appears very desirous of winning followers. It is said there are several apostates about to join him."
By the spring of 1858, Arnold's family now numbered 2 children and Elizabeth was expecting a third. Apparently, she didn't have faith in Arnold's revelations and his special calling, for she left him in San Bernardino and returned to Utah with the children. Arnold provided Elizabeth with a team and wagon and bade them farewell, never to see them again.
Where their children were born:
Wallace Edwin Potter b 1850, Mill Creek, UT
George A. Potter b 1853,
San Bernardino, CA
Mary Adaline Potter b 1854, San Bernardino, CA
Eliza Ann Potter (Brown) b 1858, Beaver UT
Elizabeth Ann Birch divorced Arnold Potter.
She married Francis Brown in 1858
Many details are from an article in Pioneer, a journal published by the Sons of Utah Pioneers: " Arnold Potter: From L.D.S. Convert to Pioneer to Missionary to Sect Leader" by Steven R. Parkes, City Creek Chapter (Pioneer, Vol. 32, January-February 1985, pp. 11, 14.),
- above info also found in a history of Arnold Potter compiled by Alvin C. Rencher, Mary Ann Chapman Richey, An Arizona Pioneer, 2008